Maternal Regulation of Infant Reactivity From 2 to 6 Months

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Previous research has investigated the effect of maternal soothing behaviors on reducing infant reactivity but not the differential effects of specific maternal behaviors on infant stress responses. The present study investigated maternal regulation of 2- and 6-month-olds' responses to an inoculation and found a significant decline with age in both the intensity and duration of infants' crying. Maternal affection and touching decreased from 2 to 6 months, whereas maternal vocalizing and distraction behaviors increased. At both ages, the combination of maternal holding/rocking and vocalizing was associated with decreases in all levels of infant reactivity. Neither strategy alone, however, was found to be effective. Feeding/pacifying behaviors were effective only when initial distress was at a low or moderate level, which suggests that the effectiveness of maternal regulatory behaviors may depend on the intensity of infants' crying.

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